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  • Writer's pictureunheardvoicesmn

Oscar Martinez, Latino

I was born and raised in Worthington. My parents were both born in Durango, Mexico and they met there. Before both my parents crossed the border my father worked as a seasonal field worker in California. For awhile he traveled back and forth. Both of my parents wanted to raise their children in Mexico but they knew it wouldn't be ideal. They finally decided it was best to raise a family in the states and so they moved to Fresno, California. My older brother and sister were born in Fresno. In 1999, they decided to move to Worthington because one of my uncles told my dad about work here. A year later, I was born. Since I was born, I would travel every year to Mexico until I was 14. I then again traveled back when I was 17.

Growing up was an emotional time because when you're young you're so innocent and when you start getting older things become more clear. I remember entering middle school and seeing groups form and you start to see the groups are based off of race. I realized that I mostly hung out with Hispanic people. I noticed a lot of Caucasian people hung out together, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans. Everyone would still say hi to each other but you knew there were specific group friends. Once I got to the 7th grade, most of my friends were transferred to the ALC (Area Learning Center). I was left alone and didn't have anyone to talk to. I was given a chance to go to summer school. I did not want to go to the ALC so I did my work and told myself that when I go back to the middle school I'm not going to be someone who talks to no one. I had to get out of my shell. It was weird because when the first thing I did was just talking to people next to me, and they were a bunch of Caucasian kids. And they were very surprised I started talking to them, but they didn't like push me away. I remember a lot of my friends when I told them who I started talking to they would be like, "Oh, so you turning on us now?" From then on, I talked to everyone and I would sit at different people's at lunch everyday. Then high school came and freshman year changed. Due to the A, B, and C lunches friend groups would scatter and so more people were open to speaking with others who don't look like them. Even in high school there were racial comments made but I didn't let it bug me. I feel like those people who make racist comments want me to get mad and they want the attention but I don't give it to them.

For example, some students at the high school were involved in the A Day Without Immigrants. A lot of people who were not part of the march were yelling negative things at us. Things they said were, "Get off the street!" and they'd say racial slurs. Many of my friends were getting mad because they were offensive words but I knew if we gave them what they wanted we could only let them win and end up getting more in trouble. Other racist moments I have been through have been with my family and getting pulled over for little things by cops. From these experiences, I've learned to not get mad because I know it can only create more problems.

Hopes for the Community:

Worthington is a wonderful town there's always going to be downsides. I wish people would see our town as what it is, a town full of culture, diversity and people from all over the world. At the end of the day I would like to come back to town and I would maybe raise a family in this town. I'd also be interested in helping build this town as a city councilmember or sitting on a board. I feel like there is a lot this community needs and already has. The youth don't have a lot of things to do. At this point, this town has a lot of car dealerships and gas stations. I know people who are in power are working on it but I don't think they see how important diversity is to continue building this town up.

Hopes for Me:

I graduated from WHS in 2018. I hope to go to Minnesota West and become a teacher to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and History. There were different opportunities that came up in my last few years of high school and I learned that I like to teach and be around young students. I was able to SVS (insert what SVS stands for) for an ESL class and I really enjoyed that. Receiving kind words from the students touched my heart because I knew I was able to make a small difference in their lives.

I feel like it's kind of my job to make the most out of the opportunities that come up. I feel like any child of immigrants, one of their main goals in life is to do more with life because of the big step our parents made when they decided to migrate. My goal in life is to be in a place where I can support my parents so they don't have to work anymore. I feel like that's kind of what every child of immigrants wants to have so when their parents retire we can help suppor them and they can just relax and enjoy life.

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